How to make ghee (Indian clarified butter)

Ghee has always been part of my life. I can recall my mum feeding me ghee and rice with a little salt when I was a young kid, telling me its brain food. She’s not far off from the truth. Besides, ghee and rice is yummy – I didn’t need much convincing to eat it! 😉

Technically, ghee is a type of clarified butter. But it’s not just any old type of clarified butter: all milk solids (including lactose) and moisture must be removed before it can become ghee (clarified butter that still retains some moisture and milk solids is not ghee).

Ghee is a staple in Indian cooking, and is highly nourishing ­– it encourages the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, and contains fat-soluble vitamins, like A and D, which are beneficial for eye and bone health. Since ghee doesn’t contain any lactose, it’s suitable for those who are lactose intolerant too.

Although I may not indulge in eating ghee the way I did when I was younger, it’s still very much part of my life. I mostly add to dhal at the end of the cooking stage. Just a dollop can add a silky deliciousness. A taste that always takes me to the memories of my mum feeding me.

Recipe

ghee 4Ingredients

  • 1kg unsalted butter (my preferred brand is B.D. Paris Creek)

Method

In a heavy-based pot, melt the butter and bring it to a gentle boil. Then turn down the heat to let it simmer for about 60 minutes, maybe even longer. The simmering time varies because the moisture content of butter varies from brand to brand, and even from batch to batch (the aim is to get rid of all the moisture). You will need to simmer the butter until it becomes clear and the milk solids should become slightly brown and sink to the bottom – some solids may stick together and float to the top.

Let the ghee cool, discarding any milk solids that are floating on the top (just use a spoon). Then strain the ghee through a sieve lined with at least 3–4 of layers of muslin cloth (cheesecloth) into a glass jar. As you strain, leave as much of the solids as you can at the bottom of the pot.

How to use ghee

Ghee has a high smoking point and can be used for sautéing, and deep and shallow frying. It won’t burn like butter, as the milk solids have been removed. You can also use a mix of oil and ghee for cooking. Some like to spread ghee on freshly made roti (Indian flat bread) – yum!

Another way to enjoy ghee is to add a tablespoon or so to soups, dhal, risotto, pasta, rice, and steamed vegetables, like you would butter.

How to store ghee

If all the moisture content and milk solids are removed, ghee will keep indefinitely, even at room temperature (at room temperature ghee is semisolid). But if you’re not sure, it’s best to store it in the fridge.